During the recent B.C. NDP leadership campaign, Adrian Dix didn't make a big deal out of the fact that he speaks and writes French fluently. From time to time, Dix also reads French-language newspapers.
If he becomes premier, this could conceivably have positive implications for national unity.
With Quebec Premier Jean Charest's personal-approval rating in the sewer, it's a safe bet that the Parti Quebecois will win the next election in that province.
It's not out of the question that we could witness a third referendum on Quebec separatism in the coming years, particularly if the Canadian economy continues to stumble.
The Quebec separatist movement, by and large, is more socially progressive and thinks more collectively than most of English-speaking Canada.
If Dix becomes premier of B.C., he could be seen in Quebec as one of the progressive faces of federalism. If called upon, he could even venture into Quebec, give interviews to French-language media, and send a positive message that English-speaking Canada isn't entirely populated by right-wing dingbats who know nothing of Quebec and Quebecois culture.
In a close vote—and let's not forget that the federalists won by a razor-thin majority in 1995—the presence of a progressive, French-speaking premier from the west could make a difference.
Of course, Dix wasn't the only candidate in the B.C. NDP leadership race who could have been a beneficial factor in a national debate over separatism. Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons is from Montreal and also speaks French fluently. He's also very progressive.
As an aside, I remember when Dix's former boss, Glen Clark, became premier in 1996 shortly after the last Quebec sovereignty vote.
I cringed at the thought of Clark—a scrappy politician who had rarely travelled outside of B.C. before being elected to the legislature—ever getting involved in this file.
It was a relief when Clark later hired former Radio-Canada reporter Jean Wolff as his press secretary because Wolff had a deep understanding of Quebec.